Redblacks Survive the Rain(ey) Storm

On a beautiful afternoon for football in front of a sparse BC crowd, the Redblacks became the first Ottawa CFL team to win a game in Vancouver since Oct. 6th 1990, when the Rough Riders beat the Lions 42-26. Led by a stifling defence and a strong offensive performance, the Redblacks earned their first win west of Parliament Hill in franchise history.

Pre-game:

– R-Nation West was out in full force:

– Ottawa comes out in their black home uniforms as the Lions chose to go with their white pants look

– BC wins the toss and defers to the second half so the Redblacks get the ball first

1st Quarter:

– QB Henry Burris (#1) quickly finds Chris Williams (#80) for a 6 yard gain, but following an incompletion Ronnie Pfeffer (#15) punts

Steven Clarke, Chris Williams

– BC goes two and out when Malik Jackson (#10) sacks Beck on 2nd and long. Instead of punting the Lions chose to concede a safety.

– Burris finds a groove, hitting Ernest Jackson (#9) for 24 yards before finding Travon Van (#34) for a gain of 10. Two plays later Chris “Money” Milo (#30) nails a 37 yard FG to make it 5-0 for the Redblacks.

– BC can’t overcome a first down holding call and goes two and out

– Jeremiah Johnson (#27), Williams and Greg Ellingson (#82) make catches for 9, 14, 22 and 5 yards to set up a 42 yard Money Milo FG. Ottawa leads 8-0.

– On the ensuing kick off, LB Travis Brown (#43) makes the tackle but seems to re-injure the shoulder that kept him out of 6 games earlier in the season.

– Antoine Pruneau (#6) nearly gets a pick as the Lions again go two and out.

– Williams picks up 8 yards on a double WR reverse before Johnson plows 4 yards for a fresh set of downs. Johnson is shaken up on the play when former Redblack Eric Fraser delivers a shoulder shot to his head. Kienan LaFrance (#37) enters for Johnson but following a short scramble by Burris and an incompletion, Ottawa is forced to punt.

– Backed up deep within the shadows of their own goalposts, Abdul Kanneh (#14) hammers Andrew Harris, who fumbles the ball which is quickly pounced upon by Keith “I Like Hittin’ People” Shologan (#74)

Abdul Kanneh, Keith Shologan

2nd Quarter:

– Despite starting on BC’s 4 yard line, the Redblacks are forced to settle for a 12 yard FG after an incompletion and a pass to Maurice Price (#7) loses a yard

– BC goes two and out

– FB Patrick Lavoie (#81) lets a deep ball slide through his hands and on 2nd and 10 Johnson loses a yard. Pfeffer’s punt is fielded by former Steeler Chris Rainey who weaves his way to Ottawa’s 13 yard line.

– One play action pass later, BC gets on the board when Austin Collie pushes off Brandyn Thompson (#25), doesn’t get called for it, and hauls in a touchdown pass. The Lions go for and get two to trail 11-8.

– LaFrance continues to spell Johnson and picks up 9 hard earned yards on the ground. Back to back 11 and 33 yard catches from Brad “Mr. 2nd Down” Sinopoli (#88) move the ball to BC’s 7 yard line. Two negative plays later, Milo’s 4th FG of the game makes it 14-8.

– The Rainey storm continues as the kick return is brought back 98 yards to Ottawa’s 1 yard line. Kanneh’s TD saving tackle only delays the inevitable as on 3rd and 2 BC’s Greg McGhee plunges in for the touchdown. Following the convert BC somehow leads 15-14.

– The offensive line gives Burris all day to throw (seriously, I saw Gott’s beard grow) but finding nobody open, he gets sacked. On 2nd and long Burris hooks up with Jackson for a 33 yard gain. Following a 3 yard catch from Sinopoli and an incompletion, the Redblacks bring out Pfeffer for what seems to be a 55 yard FG attempt, but instead let backup QB Thomas DeMarco (#17) onside punt. Unfortunately Ottawa doesn’t recover and the Lions take over on downs.

– BC QB John Beck strings together a few completions but a Shologan sack forces the Lions to settle for a 40 yard FG.

John Beck

– After 30 minutes the men in red and black puzzling trail the men in orange and white.

Half-time:

– Furious members of R-Nation Google how to spell Special Teams Coach Don Yanowsky to properly tweet #FireYanosky

3rd Quarter:

– The Lions receive and move the chains once before punting

– Johnson rumbles for 10 before Jackson picks up 11. A holding call on Jon “Dangerbeard” Gott (#63) backs up the Redblacks but a roughing the passer call bails them out. Burris looks end zone on back to back plays but has two incompletions, the second being an inexcusable drop by a wide open Williams. Milo’s 5th FG of the day, this one a 48 yarder, cuts the Lions lead to 18-17.

– BC goes two and out

– The offence settles into a groove as Johnson rushes for gains of 17, 8 and 9 yards and catches by Sinopoli, Jackson and LaFrance bring the ball down to the Lion’s 2 yard line. Johnson explodes into the end zone to cap the drive off in style. Following the covert the Redblacks go up 24-18.

Chris Williams, Jeremiah Johnson

– On 2nd and long the newly signed Shawn Lemon (#52) limits Beck’s scramble to a short gain.

– The quarter comes to an end as Johnson rushes for gains of 15, 11 and 2 yards.

4th Quarter:

– On 2nd and 8 Johnson gets half so the Redblacks punt for only the 3rd time of the night

– Beck gets hammered by Moton Hopkins (#95) as he throws and gets picked off by Pruneau

– Burris gets sacked but on 2nd and 17 finds Sinopoli across the middle for a gain of 26. Price makes an 8 yard catch before back to back Johnson runs equal a fresh set of downs. As the pocket collapses around him Burris scrambles for a gain of 14 yards and on the next play hits Ellingson in stride for a gain of 12. Three plays later Johnson finds the end zone but the score is wiped out by the first orange thing to stop him all night; a holding call on Nolan MacMillan (#66). On the very next play Johnson rumbles 12 yards into the end zone and after the convert Ottawa leads 31-18.

– Beck leads the Lions the length of the field by Jovon Johnson (#2) eliminates the scoring threat by making a savvy end zone interception.

– The Redblacks go two and out.

– Justin Capicciotti (#93) sacks Beck

Final score: 31-18 for the good guys

ottawavsbcfinalscore

Key Stats:

Burris completed 26 of 37 passes for 317 yards

Johnson had 17 carries 100 yards and 2 TDs

Sinopoli hauled in 6 passes for 102 yards

Jovon Johnson made 7 tackles and 1 INT

Milo was 5/5 in FG attempts

Closing thoughts:

Despite doing their best to give the game away in the first half, the Redblacks rallied to ensure the team more deserving of the victory actually got it. Offensively, Ottawa dominated the Lions, possessing the ball for an astounding 41 minutes and 45 seconds. That kind of time of possession simply doesn’t happen in pro football. The man at the helm of the Redblacks’ offence was once again stellar (and made history by passing the 58,000 yard passing mark). Burris completed an efficient 70% of his passes as he hit 7 different receivers running Ottawa’s no huddle, calling plays at the line and orchestrating an attack that racked up 464 yards of offence. Yet again Burris managed to avoid throwing an interception and wisely used his legs to get out of trouble when the pocket collapsed, running 4 times for 31 yards. On a related note, the offensive line deserves major credit for keeping Burris upright by providing ample time in the pocket.

For the second game in a row Jeremiah Johnson’s violent, downhill running was the stick that stirred Ottawa’s offence. Johnson did it both on the ground and in the air, providing Burris a safety valve on check downs making 5 catches for 41 yards. Johnson also found the end zone twice, bringing his total number of TDs up to 7 since he was named the team’s starter 3 games ago. Johnson’s monster game is even more impressive when you consider that he repeatedly left the game to deal with cramping issues. LaFrance did well in spot duty, showing flashes of the talent that made him a star for the Manitoba Bisons in the CIS.

At receiver it was the Sinopoli and Jackson show, as the ex-Lion returned to BC Place and torched his former team to the tune of 5 catches for 96 yards. Williams, Price and Ellingson also chipped in but for the most part today’s heavy lifting was done by #9 and #88.

Defensively, the Redblacks (and in particular their secondary), came into the game with a chip on their shoulder following some snide comments on Twitter by BC’s Manny Arceneaux, who predicted a big game for himself. Not only #DBlock limit him to 4 catches for 23 yards, but the defence as a whole also shut down the Lions running game, allowing a total of 8 yards on the ground. The defensive line padded their first place lead in CFL sacks by adding three more and also generated four turnovers: 2 INTs, 1 forced fumble and 1 turnover on downs. Jovon Johnson led the way but Abdul Kanneh and Damaso Munoz also flew around the field and were seemingly always near the ball.

As for special teams, well, once again they were far from special. Returner Chris Rainey single handedly sparked the Lions first 14 points as Ottawa’s cover teams gave up 267 return yards on 8 kicks (conceding on average 33 yards per kick) and 74 yards on 3 punts (conceding on average 23 yards per punt). The Redblacks porous cover units look even worse when contrasted by Ottawa’s own lack of return game; Chris Williams was a non-factor and didn’t have a single return hit double digits. Furthermore, Ottawa’s strange fake field goal/onside punt was simply a waste of a play. Special teams issues have plagued the Redblacks every single week this season and sooner or later WILL cost the team a win in an important game if something isn’t changed.

With the win Ottawa improves to 6-4 on the year and moves ahead of the Argos into 2nd in the East. Though there’s definitely room to improve, strong performances from both sides of the ball bode well for the team’s playoff aspirations. Up next for the Redblacks is a date with the GREENWHITES at Mosaic Stadium.

@RedBlackGade

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).